Free trade agreement beefs up the Korean-Australian partnership

Friday, 6 December 2013  Features

Australian beef is the big winner from the free trade negotiations with the Republic of Korea, putting Australia back on a level-playing field with the United States, says Australian School of Business economist Tim Harcourt.

Professor Harcourt, the J W Nevile Fellow in Economics said Australia had a huge leap in market share during the BSE crisis which put a severe dent in the US beef export market to Korea.

"Although things are returning to normal, Australia's beef exports to Korea remain at high levels and there is significant potential for growth," Professor Harcourt says.

The agreement, announced yesterday, will eliminate tariffs on Australia¹s major exports to Korea, open new markets in services and investment, and tariffs of up to 300 per cent will be eliminated on key Australian agricultural exports such as beef, wheat, sugar, dairy, wine, horticulture and seafood, as well as resources, energy and manufactured goods.

Professor Harcourt said the FTA negotiations represented the first significant international win for the Federal Government in its "open for business" agenda, following criticism over the decision to block foreign investment in Graincorp decision.

"Now the Government must focus its attention on Japan and China if it wants to be taken seriously in its 'open for business' claim," he says.

Professor Harcourt said Australia's free market negotiations with Korea would strengthen the relationship with our fourth-largest trading partner and long-time diplomatic and economic ally.

"From its significant role, alongside Australia, in the formation of APEC in 1989, to its hosting of the 2008 G20 summit - and now to a free trade agreement, the Republic of Korea has been and will remain a good friend and trading partner of Australia.

"For Australian exporters - from resources, to beef to financial services - and investors, Korea is going to be an important economic market for Australia in years to come," Professor Harcourt said.